Nikola, a small zero-emission truck maker based in Phoenix, has announced that it will build hydrogen stations for semi-trucks in California.
- On Wednesday, Nikola announced that it has received a $41.9-million grant from the California Transportation Commission to build six hydrogen fuel stations for semis.
- These fuel stations will be placed along freight corridors near Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Mojave desert and could be made available for the public as early as this year.
- The company—which was previously cash-strapped and preparing to layoff 270 employees—embraced the grant as good news, for a small company struggling to build fuel cells and batteries for cleaner vehicles.
- Nikola previously revealed in May that it is attempting to open 50 stations with Voltera within the next five years, Forbes reports.
Why It’s Important
California has been among the most aggressive states in pushing clean-energy initiatives and meeting the Biden administration’s goals of getting to net-zero emissions by 2050. The state has already prohibited the sale of new gas-powered vehicles after 2035, forcing the transition to electric vehicles, hybrids, or use alternative fuels.
This still leaves an issue. California’s infrastructure is heavily dependent on cars, which means that charging stations and alternative fuel stations will need to be heavily built up within the next 12 years to meet the rapid demands of mass adoption.
Nikola’s ambition could help the state reach that goal. The company launched battery-powered Tre trucks last year and is currently in the process of promoting its new hydrogen-powered variant, which will need available hydrogen fueling infrastructure in order to operate.
“[California’s grant] will allow us to accelerate the deployment of zero-emissions hydrogen refueling infrastructure, which is vital for the successful launch of our hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks in July,” says Nikola President Carey Mendes.
Backing Up A Bit
Hydrogen has proven to be a very viable alternative to natural gas and oil as the world economy attempts to shift away from fossil fuels. However, the processes to obtain large quantities of the gas have proven environmentally unfriendly. Scientists believe that large pockets of “geologic” hydrogen—amounting to 150 trillion metric tons—are buried in deposits that can be drilled into and tapped, and many are rushing to access it.
Many technologies have already been adapted to burning hydrogen as a replacement for traditional fuels. Several companies have experimented with hydrogen-powered freight trains and passenger trains. Several major aeronautical companies have experimented with hydrogen planes. Hydrogen cars have been experimented with as an alternative to electric vehicles, and hydrogen shipping vessels have been discussed.